Democrats Roll the Dice One Last Time on Mueller

Robert Mueller would rather not be appearing on Capitol Hill today. But Democrats want to hear from the former special counsel, who stated at a press conference in May that he'd prefer let his 448-page report on Russian interference in the 2016 election speak for itself. So the former FBI director will appear before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees to answer lawmakers' questions about the Russia affair, and his investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice in relation to the probe.

It's a risky gambit for the Democrats who, as the 2020 election approaches, are suffering an internal schism between progressives who want to rally the base and moderates who prefer to seek the support of swing voters. For Nancy Pelosi and other senior Democrats, the public response to today's hearings will be an important barometer of how hard to push impeachment – or the Russia affair more broadly – as a campaign issue in the run-up to next November.

On the one hand, they may get Mueller to say, or restate in a TV-friendly way, something politically damaging about the Trump campaign's interactions with Russians who were tied to Moscow's (well-documented) efforts to mess with the election, or about the president's actions related to the subsequent investigation.

But if Democrats come across as frustrated by Mueller, who is unlikely to go along with attempts to bait him into denouncing Trump, their gambit could backfire. They'll just look desperate.

The fact is that most Americans already know how they feel about Trump and the lines are bitterly partisan. A recent Reuters Ipsos poll found that just 18 percent of Republican respondents planned to tune in to today's hearings. Many other voters will encounter them only through soundbites and memes filtered by partisan news outlets or social media. It's not an environment that's conducive to debating the finer legal points of what constitutes an obstruction of justice by a sitting president.

We'll have a better sense of whether today's political theater moved the needle either way when the first post-hearing polls are published.

The Business and Market Fair that recently took place in Sanzule, Ghana featured local crops, livestock and manufactured goods, thanks in part to the Livelihood Restoration Plan (LRP), one of Eni's initiatives to diversify the local economy. The LRP program provided training and support to start new businesses to approximately 1,400 people from 205 households, invigorating entrepreneurship in the community.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky sat down yesterday with Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron for a meeting in the Elysée Palace in Paris for peace talks. This was the first-ever meeting between Putin, Russia's dominant political force since 2000, and Zelensky, who was a TV comedian at this time last year.

Fears that Putin would use Zelensky's inexperience to back him into a deal on Russian terms weren't realized, but the relationship between the two has only just begun.

More Show less

Macron not backing down over pensions – Despite five days of mass unrest that has paralyzed Paris' public transport system and dented both tourism and Christmas retail, the government will stand firm on a proposal to reform and unify the country's 42 different pension plans. France's pension system, one of the most generous of any major industrialized country, has major budget shortfalls that contribute to the country's ballooning deficit. Last year, Macron abandoned a proposed fuel price hike that ignited the Yellow Vest movement. But overhauling France's "welfare state" was central to his 2017 election platform, and acquiescing to protesters this time around would be political suicide. France's prime minister – tapped to lead the pension reform project – is expected to announce the plan's final details tomorrow. We're watching to see how this might escalate things further.

More Show less

4: The World Anti-Doping Agency handed Russia a four-year ban from all major sporting events, precluding its participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and soccer's 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Russia has three weeks to appeal the ban, which its prime minister says is the result of "chronic anti-Russian hysteria."

More Show less

Are we seeing the creation of a parallel universe for US and Chinese tech industries?

I think the answer is yes. In the past, US has dominated the world in technologies from P.C. operating systems, semiconductors, to servers, and even Internet. But ever since the rise of mobile technologies, China has really leveraged the large market with a huge amount of data and now is beginning to innovate and build great mobile apps on which there's a large amount of data being collected.

More Show less